How I Muted My Mom and Took Control of My Life
*Bethany* is a BNB Guest Blogger who felt inspired to share her story after reading Did Your Parents Groom You For Future Narcissistic Relationships?
So, about a year ago, I had a psychic reading that changed my life. Now, I know what you might be thinking—hold the judgment for just a sec, ok? What she had to tell me was beyond even my own belief. And it wasn’t because she saw an amazing man in my future or a new job or money beyond my wildest dreams. It was because she finally opened my eyes to the underlying problem that has been sabotaging everything good in my life: my mother was a narcissist.
Wait, what? Oh, and if I didn’t deal with that issue, the poison known as controlled parenting was going to continue to wreak havoc on everyone I loved and everything I did. Fan-freaking-tastic. It wasn’t exactly the warm and fuzzy predictions I was hoping for—but it was profound, and exactly what I needed to hear whether I liked it or not! (Not. I liked it not.)
It was devastating to learn that the person I loved and trusted the most actually has done the most harm. Now, I know she was a psychic, and not everything they say has to be true, but the moment she hinted at this core pain stemming from my mother, a knowingness coursed through my veins and a fear of the truth being exposed took over in the form of verifiable goosebumps.
At the root of all my forced beliefs; my broken dreams; my insecurities; my need for approval was a mother who conditioned me to oblige her and ignore who I truly was on the inside.
So, what’s a girl to do with this information? Like, I can’t exactly call my mom up and say, “Bye! See ya! A fortune teller said you were bad for me, so I gotta go. Have a great life!” But, something had to change, I was pretty sure of that.
I knew I could either ignore the issue or stare it down and work through this life bomb. And so, I decided to call my therapist back up to begin healing these newly broken parts of me…and learn how to do it all while still loving and embracing my mother without her knowing I was onto her. What a tall order! Sheesh!
The therapy sessions were intensely awful. Anger spewed. Sobs burst. Epiphanies burned my heart. I connected all the dots between childhood experiences and other people I had blamed for so long for my childhood traumas—finally seeing that they were not as evil as they were painted to be. But how could I not believe my mother’s version of the story? She loved, nurtured, and supported me. She was always there for me—wasn’t she?
Or was she only there for me when I was there for her? When I followed her rules and expectations? When she approved of my life choices?
Yikes awareness overload. Add to this: When I didn’t (all of the above), boy did the terror reign supreme. How dare I betray her or dishonor her or be disloyal to her. She was my mother, and that commanded respect. Who the f&%^ did I think I was? She brought me into this world, and she could take me out of it.
I can’t count how many times I heard those words.
But little by little, I learned techniques to empower myself and diffuse the mother bombs. I figured out how to navigate conversations to acknowledge all her attention-needing comments (of which I finally noticed how many!!) without engaging in endless triggering details. I refrained from potentially controversial topics and focused on the words I knew she wanted to hear; those that aligned with her own beliefs and expectations. By keeping the conversations to those mom-approved topics, I was able to tolerate communication without it wearing me down. Well, more or less.
And although she insisted on bringing up subjects I was opposed to (that she KNEW I was opposed to—like how many times do I have to explain why I don’t want to be a vegan?), I’d simply say that I understood her point, but I wasn’t interested in talking about XYZ—I wanted to hear how she was.
By turning it back on her, I fed her need for self-absorption while avoiding another round of her belligerent opinions.
Winner, winner, CHICKEN dinner! (See what I did there?)
As for my own life, I’d tell her what she wanted to hear; how right she was about everything—and then I’d find a way to gracefully hang up or leave the house in her good graces while not indulging her pity party for one. It made conversations easier, and instead of being drained afterwards, I felt empowered. Like I really did finally have control over my own life decisions. Who would’ve thunk? My therapist deserves a raise—from my insurance company. I’m tapped out.
It hasn’t been an easy road, and I do find myself still getting stuck in the old habits. What would mom think of this? Would she approve? Would she be angry? And then I stop myself and remember, dammit, this is my own life and I have the right to live it on my terms. I don’t have to indulge her narcissistic tendencies. I don’t have to let her control me anymore.
I can still love her, and I can still support her and keep her in my life—but I no longer will tolerate her abuse. Thank you for reading my story. I hope you feel comfortable to share yours.
*Bethany* is a guest blogger who submitted her story under an assumed identity for confidentiality. If you are interested in being a non-identified guest blogger for Brazen Not Battered, please email us at email@example.com. We would love to hear and share your story to inspire others.
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